Observations from PMTS 2013

A few observations from the 2013 Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) in Columbus.

1)      Attendance at shows is dwindling, which does not mean PMTS was a weak event for those who attended. The third day was a bust for counting attendees, but a great time for exhibitors to walk the floor and touch their peers. I think this has become an important aspect of smaller shows – the chance for the community of vendors to share stories and swap ideas. The machining world is a shockingly close community of buyers, sellers, and producers. The willingness of machining folk to share knowledge, even with potential competitors, is a refreshing testament to the term “friendly competition.”

2)      People are quite optimistic about their businesses, even though generally they are feeling a lull right now. There is a sense that the field has thinned out, Chinese competition is less intense, money is fairly accessible, home building is rising, and prices for materials are stable. This is a window of quiet opportunity. There is no buying frenzy, but a resolve to improve processes and equipment.

3)      Customers want value, but they also crave stable, capable suppliers. Big companies that virtually never single-sourced will do it today with seasoned, trusted firms. This makes planning more reliable than it has been in a decade, which means more sales of capital equipment. It is also making job shops, of all things, a hot commodity for the bigger companies and private equity firms. Job shops have expertise, customers, and a reputation to sell. The value of the equipment, which used to be the only way to monetize a job shop, is secondary to its ability to produce good product and be “growable.” Perhaps the best example of the potential value of a very smart group of machining guys is the sale of PPC Corporation in Manlius, New York (Syracuse) for over $500 million. The fourth generation of the Mezzalingua family sold the business, which has morphed into a successful manufacturer of connectors for the cable TV industry, to Belden Wire in January. The founder of the company John Mezzalingua, a child of Sicilian parents, started the business in 1946 by showing his employer, the S. Cheney and Son Foundry, how they could improve their ugly potbelly stoves by inexpensively polishing them. Mr. Cheney was so impressed he backed Mezzalingua to start his own business. Today the foundry is long gone, but the Mezzalingua heirs are very rich. The word is that the family kept the wireless technology they developed out of the deal with Belden. This may well be the seed of an even bigger fortune. It shows what you can do with a bunch of screw machines and some very shrewd people.

Question: Will the Boston bombing deter you from attending big events?

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7 thoughts on “Observations from PMTS 2013

  1. Jim Bradshaw

    No, Never, it’s just not the way Americans face the world, and I don’t even own a gun, but I not going to live scared. It’s just not in our nature to be cowed by cowards like the 2 brothers who have perpetrated these crimes against in Boston area. The murders that happen every day to me are more horrorifying than any terrorist threats from outside our borders.

  2. Josh Weaver

    Am I going to let the terrorists get what they want and live my life in fear while begging the government to take away my civil rights? No.

  3. Jim Goerges

    Maybe a better question is will it deter people from attending large events? Will it keep people from consuming? Will this require the government to spend more money? If any of these are true, what does it mean?

    If people start conserving and spending less, how does that affect you? If the government spends more money, who pays for it? The 90 million people not looking for work and on the government payroll for entitlements or would that be the business owners and rich folk such as yourself?

    Is health care going to be cheaper than the government thought or more expensive, or will it blow up and never work and none of the poor are going to be helped, yet, the money will be spent-if you listen to one of the people who dreamt up this attrocity-“Coined Affordable Health Care, he says we are in trouble! So again, who is going to pay for this??

    So if any of the things I said have a little bit of truth to it, do you think maybe the slowdown you saw at the tradeshow is just a tip of the iceberg of troubles to come? Can spending twice as much as the government takes in sustainable, will our deficit go down, or will we government overpromise and continue undeliver. Hmmm, let’s stay tuned shall we!

  4. Dave

    Of course, we are not letting terrorists rule our lives. Just talk to people in Israel, Iraq, Palestine, Afganistan, etc., etc. They have to constantly live with terrorism and yet they manage to keep going and trying to live as normal a life as possilbe. We are most fortunate in the USA. As the people in Boston said: “They picked the wrong city!!”

    We may want to tighten security (or not) around high profile events–like the Superbowl, but if you watched any movies for the past 25 years, you know that the idea of terrorizing those events is an old idea. And security at these events is already very tight.

    Probably the biggest change that the old authors and movies never considered is the amazing growth of social media and smartphones. Now everyone has a camera and everyone can instantly photograph things as they happen. The FBI’s major job was watching all the thousands of videos and photos taken around the crime scene–and that is basically how they caught the Marathon bombers!!

    As far as PMTS 2013 goes, as an exhibitor, we found this show the best one ever and set a record on numbers of good leads, even on the last day. Most of our customers are very busy (one told me he is sold out for two years!). I didn’t hear any complaints about slow business. As far as the young students on the last day, I was very impressed with their seriousness and interest in our industry. Don’t ignore them, one told me he would soon be inheriting his grandfather’s (and grandmother’s) screw machine shop and he is already looking for ways to make improvements and bring it into the 21st century. God bless America.


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